Why Classes Should Start Later
by Donna Burke
A joint study of scientists from Oxford, Harvard and the University of Nevada showed that anxiety and irritability in adolescents could be explained not only by a surge in hormones and puberty but also by a chronic lack of sleep. For many children and adults, waking up at sunrise is not an easy test. The fact that sleep is not only a guarantee of health but also helps to learn better is known for a long time. However, scientists say that schooling and work should not start before 10 a.m. so that we get the maximum benefit.
The Role of Biorhythms
Daily biorhythms determine sleep and wakefulness cycles over a 24-hour period and are controlled by exposure to light that hits the eyes. The biorhythm system regulates biological mechanisms and genes. Biorhythms change depending on age and a person cannot change them by his/her will. In addition, children and adolescents cannot function normally without proper sleep and must begin and end their day later than younger children or middle-aged adults.
During puberty, the human body is actively rebuilt; in particular, changes occur in biorhythms. Usually, it is quite difficult for a teenager to fall asleep before 11 p.m. Moreover, if a child systematically falls asleep after midnight and wakes up at 6 a.m. in order to get to school, the lack of sleep causes chronic fatigue and decreases motivation.
According to scientists, the generally accepted time to start classes in schools and universities adversely affects the health and performance of students. The ability to work productively, including learning, varies depending on the biological, not socially acceptable time.
Since adolescence, the natural cycles of optimal work hours and mental concentration begin to conflict with the schedule of studies. The most productive hours shift in adolescents at a later time.
The Harmful Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Experts explain that most people wake up with an alarm clock because they cannot wake up naturally to the time when they need to go to work, school or college. This position has scientific confirmation. From adolescence, hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clock, begins to be produced about 11 p.m. Melatonin production ends late in the morning, and therefore it is so difficult for us to get up early. In general, we are a sleep-deficient society, but the 14-24-year-old age group suffers from the lack of sleep more than other people. It represents a serious danger to health, mood, study and mental health. Lack of sleep is an international problem, and the current system causes serious harm not only to physical and mental health but also to the training system. It increases the risk of developing diabetes and schizophrenia.
The management of educational institutions should review the schedule of classes, taking into account the peculiarities of the work of teenagers’ biological hours. It will help prevent students from fatigue, which can develop into a chronic sleep disorder, which, in turn, can lead to problems not only with learning but also with their health.